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More on Gumption

A little more background on my choice of a name for this blog (and then on to things that may be of [more] general interest).

I was checking out Scott Lederer's blog to see whether he had anything to say about all the work at Bell Labs on E-Services Customization -- which he did, here and here -- and came across another entry in Scott's blog that reminded me of Robert Pirsig's use of the term gumption in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:

btw, if you have Being and Time and you've read Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, check out page H. 41 of the former (p. 65 of the Macquarrie and Robinson translation) where he ends the opening of Division One with the concise revelation of Dasein: "Its existential meaning is care." To be human is to care. Not touchy-feely care. But gumption care. Like Pirsig's care of his motorcycle. To be human is to exercise gumption. Indeed

So I went back to my copy of the book and found the following description of gumption:

I like the word "gumption" because it's so homely and so forlorn and so out of style it looks as if it needs a friend and isn't likely to reject anyone who comes along. I like it also because it describes exactly what happens to someone who connects with Quality. He gets filled with gumption.

A person filled with gumption doesn't sit around dissipating and stewing about things. He's at the front of the train of his own awareness, watching to see what's up the track and meeting it when it comes. That's gumption.

If you're going to repair a motorcycle, an adequate supply of gumption is the first and most important tool. If you haven't got that you might as well gather up all the other tools and put them away, because they won't do you any good.

Finally, a collection of definitions for the term can be found here[Update: a short and engaging article on the origins and meanings of the term -- including "common sense", "energy and initiative" and "courage" -- can be found at The Maven's Word of the Day.]

Anyhow, enough about me and my aspiration for gumption (for now); on to our regular programming...

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